Having Faith

Just like everyone knew that aliens would naturally have a single unified government, they were equally sure that aliens would be atheists.

And just like how it actually turned out that the aliens used to have multiple nation states, the discovery of aliens having a multitude of religions was just as surprising. This was accompanied by the revelation that a few individuals among the survivors actually were respected elders of these faiths.

To comparative theologists the ability to observe new and totally alien religions was heaven sent.

Parallel to human religions, the basics of these alien religions were not that different and quite easy to understand, yet the doctrines and practices were vastly different.

Between the thousands of Quetzal there were six known religions out of about sixty eight that died along with their planet. All of these religions were partly tied to Quetzal biology.

Quetzal reproduction was a complex affair as they were virtually genderless most of the time, only developing a gender for six Earth weeks every two Earth years and then descending into a planet wide mating frenzy, followed by the females of the equation laying fifty eggs.

The high number of eggs was tied to their evolutionary history as a species of R-strategists, although they were rather good parents, unlike their Earth equivalents.

Quetzal religion had developed to take this biology into accord and while the six known faiths were largely different from each other they shared a couple of similarities.

The existence of souls was present in every Quetzal religion, but they were in short supply and not all of them were fully developed to be able to bring new life. That only about forty percent of the Quetzal eggs hatched, was painted as the lack of enough souls for all eggs. Only four to five young Quetzal of each brood survived until the next mating season and this was generally seen as the souls of the young ones not having fully developed and failing to keep the body alive.

The short supply of Quetzal souls also tied in to their belief of reincarnation. Each death of a Quetzal lead to his soul being sent into a state between lives, named different by each religion, before being reincarnated in the next mating season, supplementing the new souls. Some religions believed that the reincarnated were influenced by their past lives, making them celebrate the dead, while others didn’t, who mourned their dead.

Of the Quetzal religions one was a monotheistic belief system that was similar to human Zoroastrianism. Two didn’t have any gods or higher beings that had created the universe, instead they had a cyclic view of it, with the current universe having been created from the death of the previous universe. The other three were polytheistic and had independent pantheons of gods, though one of them had a penchant for coming up with new gods ever so often, even going as far as claiming that exceptional individuals ascended to being gods upon their death, freeing them from the cycle of reincarnation. Some old gods even died and were reborn as new gods.

The Turukal on the other hand had only two monotheistic religions that had survived out of thirty one and both were related to each other in the same way Protestantism and Catholicism were. Their God, Aldwarack, was nurturing, protecting and building, residing deep within the core of their homeworld.

These religions were also to a degree tied to the Turukal biological and evolutionary history. Evolutionary pressure had driven the ancestors of the Turukal underground, away from the dangerous surface, where large predators stalked day and night.

Even though they had largely evolved into a subterranean living species, their eyes and other senses were still able to operate normally on the surface, eventually allowing them to conquer the surface, once they had developed primitive weapons that enabled them to protect their herds and farmlands against predators. The term ‘Dentan’, used for soldiers and law enforcement officers, can be traced back to these first guardians.

Building and constructing had become a part of the Turukal way of life, largely due to the need of constructing tunnels for their sub-terran dwellings. As such the god Aldwarack was believed to have constructed the universe, finally building the Turukal homeworld as his stronghold, creating its vast mountain ranges, desert and grass plains for his immediate creations to inhabit.

The large veins of various ores and minerals, as well as the existence of large natural cave systems, formed an environment perfect for thriving. The cave systems, a gift of Aldwarack, allowed for his faithful followers to be used in modesty, yet allowed for defiance against the outside forces.

In the weeks after temporarily settling down on Diego Garcia, the immediate problem of surviving was gone. This allowed the survivors to have time to think and let things finally set in. Many turned towards their religion, clinging to their faith with a zealous zeal, some of them even claiming that it was their duty to reclaim their homeworlds. Especially a larger part of the Turukal called out to reclaim Umitas, the fortress of Aldwarack.

To others it brought a crisis of faith. Their personal belief had been turned around with the destruction of their homeworlds and the majority of their species. Some felt that their religion was not fully correct and that the destruction was a sort of test of faith. Others felt betrayed and sought a replacement. With it came interest in human religions.

The Evangelist preacher from Minnesota, Reverend William Dawson, was more than willing to help them out. It didn’t sit well with many of the scientists, especially a Jesuit exobiologist, Padre Emilio Martinez, who had offered some spiritual guidance himself. The two often had hard verbal confrontations, yet both of their methods were quite fruitful, resulting in over 200 Quetzal and Turukal converting to Catholicism or the Church of the Latter Day Saints.

143 others went to follow the buddhist and islamic faith, with a smaller number of hinduism, basing their new belief largely on less ‘professional’ teachers.

The newly adapted human faith of the aliens was relatively quick to be modified by the aliens however, to fit their views better. For the Turukal, the abrahamic God was the human version of Aldwarack, though he resided within a higher dimension.

Reactions from the major human religions varied. Buddhists and hindus had very little problems with the mainly quetzal converts to their religion and the 14th Dalai Lama noted that the Quetzal faiths with reincarnation as integral part were only correct.

The more difficult issues came from within the Islam and Christianity.

A good number of preachers and televangelists in the United States called the aliens demons, sent by the Devil to corrupt mankind and alien technology being used to seduce everyone from following their false gods. The content was almost identical to the message several Imams spewed, although both disagreed strongly on that argument when confronted with it.

When the Quetzal group aiming for the United States settled down in their new town of Riaria, near Monterey, the US government made sure to protect them with an FBI office in town. The only greater incidents in Riaria were a number of pickets of a well known hate group, who insisted that everyone they disagreed with was hated by God, a very loud protest of a group of die-hard creationists and a protest of concerned parents outside of the small town following the first Mating Frenzy, which had been witnessed by a group of school children.

For the Catholic Church the situation had calmed down with Pope John Paul III, who was close to fixing the situation concerning aliens and their theological implications. The success of Padre Martinez in converting nearly 120 Turukal and 50 Quetzal took the Vatican by surprise as Martinez had not been sent to Diego Garcia to spread the Gospel, but to work as exobiologist.

To the Pope it was important that Martinez returned to his work as exobiologist and after some political haggling with the United Nations the Vatican was able to send a young Spanish priest, Emilio Santoz, to Diego Garcia to take care of the newly converted aliens. Unofficially he could even try and gain a few more converts.

It was clear that the aliens could hardly be expected to adhere to human customs in church. Now it proved to be valuable that Santoz, like Martinez, was a member of the Society of Jesus and had a masters degree in anthropology. To make Christianity more appealing to the aliens, he suggested to follow the example of the church of old, on how the pagan rituals of barbaric tribes in Northern Europe had been integrated into Christianity. Padre Santoz started to do the same with implementing the alien religions into Christianity, to a degree creating a flavor of catholicism like there were hundreds around the globe. This new flavor of catholicism linked the trek of the survivors to the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt and the arrival in the Sol system to Christmas.

Santoz was very successful in his care for his alien charges and in 2022 Rauth Tur-eldod, a Turukal engineer, became the first alien novice of the Society of Jesus.

46 Turukal had converted to Sunni Islam, while the 32 Quetzal converts of Islam had chosen to follow the more esoteric Sufism. They were openly welcomed by most of the Islamic world and a number of Imams spoke out positively on the aliens choice to follow Islam. The followers of the Shia branch were slightly less pleased, though mainly due to the choice of the Sunni and Sufi branches.

Shia and Sunni Imams openly spoke out against the aliens, calling them devils and issued several fatwas against them, lest they destroy mankind. The loudest voices in Islam against the aliens came from Boko Haram, who saw the use of alien technology and knowledge as an extension of westernization, especially as it was taught with western methods. As such they openly declared jihad against the aliens, their teachings and alien technology in general.

On December 12, 2023, this jihad, previously only a minor annoyance that resulted in the destruction of a few technological items, turned into a full problem. An attack was staged by a group of 15 Boko Haram fundamentalists on Sizin, the Quetzal settlement near Durban in South Africa, during the second mating Frenzy the Quetzal experienced. As the Quetzal were nearly defenseless, the terrorists were able to kill 41 adult and 131 juvenile Quetzal of the first Earthborn Quetzal generation, before they were killed by 9 Quetzal who had remained genderless during the Mating Frenzy as protection against external threats.

The death of that many aliens by the hand of human extremists caused an international outcry and pressure on Nigeria to deal with the problem. Worse was the reaction of Enthat. The Synthetic Intellect broke from his cis-lunar patrol trajectory and entered a low earth orbit. Enthat hacked the computer network of the Nigerian Civilian Joint Task Force to acquire the location of known Boko Haram camps. With this information he changed his orbital alignments to be able to use his spinal railguns for a pinpoint surface bombardment, taking out the majority of the leadership of Boko Haram, crippling the organization.

Enthat’s attack on the camps provided a problem to the United Nations. On one hand it was a violation of international laws and treaties, which had been ratified by the Quetzal and Turukal before settling down on Earth. However he assisted marvelously in reducing the threat of Boko Haram. On the other hand Enthat was bound to a number of protocols that had been given him prior to the ‘Rag Tag Fleet’ to make the survival of the Quetzal a priority. These protocols called for a retaliation against any threat.

That the synthetic intellect had chosen to strike with pin-point precision and tried to reduce civilian losses was a point in his favor. It still presented a dangerous precedent.

During the immediate aftermath, the Quetzal, and by extension the Turukal, felt rather vulnerable. An attempted attack of Salafists on the Quetzal settlement in Erstein, France, did not help matters either. The alien made their fear known and some of the lesser known leaders of the Quetzal and Turukal talked about being unhappy about these dealings.

The remaining leaders of Boko Haram made use of the attack from Enthat, claiming that the alien masters of the West had finally shown their true faces and that they had slain Muslims, anticipating on supernatural beliefs that still existed in large parts of Africa as well as plain xenophobia. It turned out to be something of a propaganda success for Boko Haram and their ranks swelled, making up for the losses taken through Enthat and a number of follow up strikes by the Nigerian security forces.

A number of Imams afflicted with Boko Haram and other fundamentalist organizations issued more fatwas on the aliens, stating their their technology showed the true evil face of technology in general and ordered the destruction of machinery all over the world.

The situation in Nigeria and other nations of the Guinean Union deteriorated over the course of 2024. On October 6, the heads of state of the Guinean Union asked the European Union for military help. With its good experiences in Rwanda, the European Union was more than willing to help the Guinean Union, as a success would also mean better relations with these West African nations.

The EU still sought out a UN mandate to help out making their intervention internationally backed. On October 23, the first cargo planes with Euroforce troops landed in Lagos and began operations against Boko Haram on October 29. In November, Euroforce was joined by a group of five Quetzal ‘space marines’ from the conventionally manned Quezal combat spacecraft, as well as 49 Quetzal and 15 Turukal volunteers.

For Boko Haram this was another prime target for propaganda, claiming that the Euroforce troops were out to enforce a ‘re-colonization’ of West Africa by the Europeans and that their alien masters were out to conquer the world.

The Guinean Conflict of Boko Haram versus the Guinean Union and the EU, lasted four years, leading to the devastation of large parts of the largely undeveloped interior of the Guinean Union, as Boko Haram followed a ‘Scorched Earth’ policy.

That a number of humans converted to alien faiths was a bit stranger though. A number of well known celebrities discovered the Quetzal religion as new trend, while xenophiliacs, as well as followers of fun religions, converted out of fandom. Some more eccentric individuals even set out to restore one or two of the by now dead alien religions.

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